Aled Jones is in Halifax in West Yorkshire to discover the history behind one of the UK's newest minsters; plus a performance from country music legend Glen Campbell.
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Hello, and welcome to West Yorkshire.
This week, I'm on my way to Halifax, a town with a proud history
and a rich musical tradition, so I wonder why they asked me to bring a scooter.
Honestly, the things I do for this programme!
They meant THAT sort of scooter! ..Wait for me!
This week, I discover the appeal of transport with two wheels
and many mirrors, with wonderful hymns from Halifax Minster,
and country music legend Glen Campbell takes a break from his world tour
to give an exclusive performance for Songs Of Praise.
Halifax is a town shaped by its proud industrial heritage.
The old mills and market places in the shadow of the South Pennine hills
are reminders of the time
when this was a major hub of the wool and cotton trade.
Nevertheless, Halifax has moved with the changing times.
You may have heard of the small building society
established here in 1853.
Now part of a multinational banking group,
it's still the town's biggest employer.
Whilst some landmarks, like the handsome town hall,
are still used for their original purpose,
other buildings and spaces have been re-imagined and reinvented.
Like this one.
Halifax Piece Hall, opened up as a trading place
for pieces of cloth in 1779.
It quickly became a focal point for the people of Halifax.
Political hustings were held here,
and it was even the starting point
for Halifax's very first hot-air balloon ride.
And in the mid-19th century, it was the setting for a series of Whitsuntide Sings,
where over 30,000 gathered to raise their voices in praise to God.
And the churches of Halifax
continue to maintain that rich musical tradition.
When I came to Halifax a few years ago, this building behind me
was the parish church, but something's changed.
It's still the same imposing building at the heart of town
and it's still home to the same thriving community.
It's where our hymns come from this week.
But it's no longer the parish church. Why?
Find out after our first hymn, At The Name Of Jesus.
Here's a riddle for you.
When is a church still a church, but no longer a church?
And what has a telescope, a diary and a coin got to do with its story?
Come with me - all will be revealed.
For over 900 years, this was the town's parish church
until just two years ago, when in a very special service,
it was endowed with the title "Minster Church of St John the Baptist Halifax".
So, it's not just a church, it's a Minster church.
The term Minster originally referred to a religious community.
Today it's an honorary title
that can be bestowed on parish churches by their bishop.
And the mission of Halifax's New Minster is to reach out
through worship, social justice and education,
and, of course, to build on its rich heritage,
which brings me to the other clues in the riddle.
The coin - that's to give to Old Tristram here.
Carved in wood, in 1701, it's believed that he represents
a real-life Halifax character who once begged in the church precincts.
Doesn't look bad for his age, does he?
The diary is a clue to another intriguing former resident of Halifax.
Anne Lister inherited nearby Shipton Hall in 1826.
She was a prolific diary writer, and used to record
her private thoughts using a secret code,
which has only been deciphered in the last few years.
And the telescope - that's in memory of William Herschel,
a quite remarkable man by all accounts.
He came to England from Germany in 1757, aged just 19,
and went on to become the celebrated astronomer
who discovered the planet Uranus.
But besides star-gazing, he was also an accomplished musician.
He was actually the first organist here, at Halifax Minster, as it is now.
I'm sure he'd be very proud to know
that this fine instrument is still being put to good use.
I was meant to be here for two months, when I finished university. I'm here ten years later!
Denise Keenan and her daughter-in-law Kate run the St Augustine's Centre in Halifax.
Established in the 1960s,
to react to the needs of an increasingly diverse community,
volunteers were soon offering advice and support to refugees and asylum-seekers.
Over the years, the centre has gone from strength to strength.
We used to get people coming to our office door,
to the point where there was a queue of people wanting something.
I'd be just running round like a headless chicken.
I'd be standing there saying, "Kate, do this!"
And eventually we said, we need to find one afternoon a week,
where we serve some food and we sort everyone's problems out.
-That was the plan.
-We were going to sort everyone's problems out, with volunteers.
-On the Tuesday afternoon.
-And now we've got two buildings, 24/7 advice.
We have garden activities, we have creative activities,
we have immigration advice, careers advice.
We have a church service downstairs.
# We are part of God's amazing plan. #
-You're also banging drums!
You can sit at the table on a Tuesday, with 35 people,
and they're all from somewhere different in the world. How amazing is that?
'Gabriel Mlala was a teacher in his native Zimbabwe,
'when, due to political unrest, he had to flee for his life.
'After ten years, it's still not safe for him to return.'
You've had such a tough life.
You had to leave your family behind in Zimbabwe.
Yes, I left my family behind.
I had been in South Africa for two years before I came here,
so it is more than ten years now that I last saw my children.
How do you cope with that?
Sometimes I just have to cry, to take out the stress of it.
We pray for all those who fear for their safety.
I am so close to my family, especially my mother.
It's the one that I think... Because she is very old now,
and sometimes I get so much afraid that she will die, and I won't even see her.
Does God help you through that?
Yes, I think praise has been a very good...a big part in my life.
Because each time when I'm very down, I just kneel down and pray.
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning,
I feel I've got the strength to just go on and on, and hopefully things will get better.
And you sometimes wonder, when did they last have a hug?
I'm not going to give them a hug cos it's appropriate from me.
-But the mother figure, everybody loves the mother figure in their life.
You sometimes think, when did they last have that bit of love
that you need sometimes to keep you going?
I suppose this can be a controversial issue.
What do you say to the people who are of the view
that asylum seekers should stay where they are?
One thing I say to people is, this is a Christian country.
We've got to treat people in a Christian manner.
And we don't.
People come here, and half of them don't even know why they're here,
because they've paid somebody to get them out of their horrible situation.
It would be really sad to think
there would be hundreds of people out there not receiving God's love,
but...you know, I'm sure something else would be here.
And there are many charities we work with who do practical things,
but it would be a really sad loss to this community.
-We're a bit of an oasis, really.
-I see God's face in people,
when they come in the doors, and sometimes people will walk away...
-And you know that it's God.
-Yes, there goes Jesus.
In its heyday, this space at Piece Hall would have been alive
with noise and colour, as traders tried to sell their wares.
And even today, the peace of Piece Hall is sometimes shattered.
Before I left school, I knew that I wanted to be a somebody,
to be part of a group, to be part of something people would look up to.
A Mod is someone who is very smart.
It's all about music, it's all about dancing to the music that you love.
And it's all about girls.
And it's all about scooters as well.
A Mod cannot be a Mod without a scooter, in my opinion.
I did the usual - going out, getting drunk.
And I remember one time coming home one evening.
I had the police everywhere because I was causing that much trouble.
The police came knocking on our door, and I looked at my mum,
and I could see the sadness in her eyes.
And I started to cry.
And I cried buckets, and I said, "Mum, I can't stop drinking."
And I said, "I am going to church." You could hear a pin drop.
It was scary. It was unusual for me.
Because one thing I noticed is that when I walked into this church,
people were talking to each other.
And they seemed to have a smile on their faces,
as if they were enjoying the church.
I could feel God's presence everywhere.
I looked upon God,
and I could see with my eyes that he was pure,
he was holy, he was right.
And when I looked at my own heart and my own life,
I could see all the wrong
and the terrible things that I'd done in the past.
At that point, I got up and I walked to front of the church,
and I shook the minister's hand, and I lifted my head and prayed to Jesus.
And I said, "Jesus, I will follow you."
And even to this day, after 25 years, I'm still learning to walk with God.
I don't have it all together, I am not perfect. I'm just forgiven.
Becoming a Christian did not stop Phill from becoming a Mod
and he set about forming a group for those who shared both his faith
and his love for scooters.
We came up with the idea of the British Christian Scooterist's Association.
We even designed a logo.
The association is set up for Christians,
and if they have any problems, we're there for them.
And what do you do?
We go to rallies,
and we go there to let them know that there is more to life
than just listening to music, there is more to life
than just drinking.
And we wanted to let the world know that Jesus Christ is alive
and very much in the business of changing people's lives for the better.
# There's been a load of compromising... #
When it comes to the world of country music,
there are few bigger stars than Glen Campbell.
His career has spanned five decades,
and produced huge hits such as Witchita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy.
# Like a rhinestone cowboy
# Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo... #
He's still playing and recording today.
But a few months ago, Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
With his wife Kim, he spoke to Songs Of Praise
shortly before he performed in Yorkshire as part of his final world tour.
Well, I'm one of 12 kids. And Daddy, he played and sang.
He had a harmonica. He'd do all that.
So, all the kids just kind of picked up on it.
-You used to have all-day singing.
-Picnic on the ground, and singing. Go to church on Sunday.
-Singing at a church on Sunday.
They didn't do allow musical instruments at the Church of Christ,
where Mama went, so I went on down to the other one!
And at the Baptist church, they didn't allow dancing!
They didn't allow dancing! I said, "Boy!"
I looked all over the Bible and I never saw any of those things!
After perfecting his guitar playing on his uncle's radio show,
Glen moved to California, just as rock'n'roll was taking off.
He formed his own bands, and then joined a group of session musicians
who gained a reputation as the best in the business.
They became known as the Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew was a bunch of guys... We played everybody's songs.
-We used to start off with Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys...
I really enjoyed doing that,
cos I was playing with the best players on Earth - literally.
I was playing in Las Vegas.
Elvis would do a month, we'd do a month.
It was a lot of fun, I really got to know Elvis.
You'd go to see his show, he'd go to see yours.
-He played on Viva Las Vegas.
-Right, I played on Viva Las Vegas.
And Elvis and I became friends. Boy...
He had more charisma than anybody I have ever seen in my life.
And I've always admired him for that.
He was just as nice a guy as you'd ever want to run into.
He was just awesome.
# Viva Las Vegas! #
Well, when I first met Glen, on our first date, we went out to eat,
and he bowed his head to say a prayer before the meal began,
and I thought, "Yes!"
Cos I had been asking the Lord to send me a Christian man.
So, we had a great date... But as the night progressed,
I realised that he had a terrible drinking problem.
It wasn't terrible! I was enjoying it!
I should have added, "Be specific when you pray!"
# Amazing Grace... #
We had a lot of dark valleys that we had to walk through.
But I knew that he was seeking God, and so I prayed a lot,
and we found a good church in Phoenix.
# Cos I once was lost And Lord, but now I'm found... #
This past year, we received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's for Glen.
-Short-term memory was beginning to...
-I didn't want to remember all that stuff that was in my past!
-I was glad I was forgetting it!
-So, we're just taking it day by day.
It's been a slow and gradual process.
We're just trying to enjoy life,
and prepare for tomorrow but not worry about tomorrow.
And God is faithful, and we're just going to trust in him
-and rely on him for the future.
She'd make a good preacher, wouldn't she? HE LAUGHS
# I've tried and I have failed, Lord
# I've won and I have lost
# I've lived and I have loved, Lord
# Sometimes at such a cost
# One thing I know
# The world's been good to me
# A better place
# Awaits, you'll see
# Some days I'm so confused, Lord
# My past gets in my way
# I need the ones I love, Lord
# More and more each day
# One thing I know
# The world's been good to me
# A better place
# Awaits, you'll see
# Oooh ooh-ooh ooooh
# A better place. #
When visiting Halifax, you're only ever a few minutes away
from some splendid Yorkshire countryside.
The peace and tranquillity of being out in the country
has always struck a chord deep in the human spirit.
Something perhaps most famously expressed in the 23rd Psalm.
David's words of green pastures and still waters
have been set to music countless times through the ages,
but recently, churches have come to treasure the setting we're about to hear next.
It was written by a worship leader who grew up a few miles from here, Stuart Townend.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the people that enrich our lives.
For the different communities that give us a sense of belonging.
Help us always to remember that we are one family.
And to strive to reflect your love and your light to those around us.
The peace of God which passes all understanding.
Keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God
and of his son, Jesus Christ.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always.
It's time to say goodbye to the Minster town of Halifax,
and the people who've shared their stories.
But not before our final hymn,
which celebrates the great story of our faith.
It's time for me to head home. Till next week, see you.
Next week, in a special programme for Remembrance Sunday,
we'll be in the garrison town of Colchester.
I'll be meetings soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan,
and discover how the Royal British Legion began 90 years ago.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Aled Jones is in Halifax in West Yorkshire to discover the power and passion of two-wheeled transport and the history behind one of the UK's newest minsters; plus there is an exclusive performance from country music legend Glen Campbell.